In parts of Europe where winter weather is more severe, cold weather tyres are common place. In many European countries fitting winter tyres is even a legal requirement but in the UK, where a cold winter is less of a certainty, most drivers do not consider fitting winter weather tyres.
Following January’s blizzard conditions and the prediction of a second severe winter to come, there has been a lot of debate recently about the merits of cold weather tyres. Are there benefits to fitting winter weather tyres in the UK? Having tested them, we would say YES and it’s easy to see why; using winter tyres, a two- or four-wheel-drive car can drive on ice and snow with ease.
Here’s why: an ordinary tyre starts to see its performance drop off below 45F (7C) as the compound hardens and grip is reduced. When you consider that the majority of morning and evening commutes from late autumn to mid-spring are in temperatures colder than this, the case for specialist winter tyres is compelling.
A recent report from Tyre Safe showed test results comparing summer and winter tyres.
In icy conditions, braking from 20mph, a car shod with winter tyres stopped some 11m sooner. On snowy roads, from 30mph, the difference was 8m.
That’s one and a half to two car lengths – and that could be the difference between a near miss and a serious accident, or even a fatal one.
The perception that winter tyres only give benefits on snow or ice is years out of date as modern rubber compound technology and advances in tread pattern design means the modern day winter tyre also provides higher levels of road safety on cold and damp road surfaces too.
EVO magazine recently conducted a test on winter tyres:
Conditions were mixed – snow off-line, mostly slush on-line and some of the corners merely wet. It was about 3°C. The standard XFR (plate ending EFC) was hopeless almost everywhere. Skittish and snatchy, it could barely put any power down and slithered to a 2:35 lap.
The Sotto Zeros were a revelation from the get-go. The same width and profile as standard, the difference was noticeable in the pitlane – this time we didn’t join the track sideways. This Jag (plate ending EFF) was far more predictable and manageable through corners, peak speed was 20mph faster, and you could feel the tyres biting through the snow. I was amazed at the liberties you could take – it was hard to believe we were on snow. The result? More than 30sec sliced off the lap time, at 2min04sec.
Would four-wheel drive help? We had an Evo X FQ-330 on summer rubber to hand. It managed a 2m29s, 25sec adrift of the winter-tyred XF. Point proved. To get the standard XFR to perform a 0-60mph time at all, I had to to start on wet tarmac and it still took 15.3sec – the cold weather tyres cut that to 8.9sec.
Braking was where the biggest differences lay. The Sport Maxxes took longer to stop from 60mph than to get there in the first place, covering a huge 782.1ft (238.4m) in 18.5sec. The Sotto Zeros helped the XFR stop in 7.8sec, covering 330.8ft (100.8m) – way under half the time and distance.
Winter tyres can be purchased for around £40 per corner – well worth saving your life for…..
If anything they help you enjoy your RWD American car that bit longer in the winter months 🙂
For Winter Tyre Prices contact us on 01908 887917